Different Rant

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Example of perfectly acceptable uses of the words ‘than’ and ‘from’.

My November Day Thirteen, and a Friday to boot.

And now for something completely different….

There is a ban

On ‘different than’

I learned that little rhyme in grade school and have never forgotten it.  When people use those two words together it sounds like lazy grammar and just grates on my nerves.  I want to correct them.  It’s ‘different from’.

Different FROM everybody!  Don’t be dumb, say different from.  That one I made up on my own.

I know both phrases are now acceptable, and maybe they were when I was taught that they weren’t, but it’s a good rule and I like it and it bugs me when it’s broken.  So stop saying it and writing it and thinking it in your head, okay?

Here is a convincing little blurb from my on-line dictionary.  Yes, I am still reading the dictionary.  I even downloaded the premier edition.  Is it geek week?

In formal writing, different from is generally preferred to different than. This preference has to do, in part, with the historical use of the word than. This term entered English as a conjunction often used with comparative adjectives, such as better, taller, shorter, warmer, lesser, and more, to introduce the second element in a comparison. Different is not a comparative adjective. Thus, when different than first started appearing in English, it sounded grating or less natural to discerning ears.

They are talking about my ears, attached to my anal brain.  This is almost as bad as mixing up YOUR and YOU’RE.  Almost.  Please tell me you’re not making this faux pas with your words.

I also read that in the UK it’s common to say ‘different to’.  Is that true?  It sounds backwards.  Although preferable to ‘than’.

The only instance in which different should be used with than is when you say something like

This house is different than I remember.

But you could also say

This house is different from what I remember.

Or you could simply pretend you don’t remember a damned thing about the house and shut up about it already.

I don’t usually rant on a Friday the 13th, or any other day really.  I have no idea from whence all this came.  Be thankful you aren’t having coffee with me and listening to this rather meaningless grammar lesson in real life.

Happy Friday everybody!

I think I will now get myself out of the house and into some fresh air, so tomorrow’s post will be pleasantly different FROM this one.

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7 thoughts on “Different Rant

  1. I always start to say “different from”, and then I think, “No, is that bad grammar? Is that the one that makes me sound uneducated? I think I am supposed to say ‘different than…'” And then I try to rephrase whatever I was going to say so I can avoid the whole phrase.
    But I do always get “your” and “you’re” right, and “its” and “it’s”. I am very proud of my apostrophe skills. 🙂

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  2. Hahaha! I’m very English, and I do in fact usually say ‘different to,’ (maybe just proving I’m different?), although in posher company this sometimes becomes ‘different from,’ – but never ‘different than,’as that just doesn’t seem natural at all… 😉

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  3. Your rants are at least very amusing. When I lost all sense of where commas belong and then found that I didn’t seem able to complete a sentence with out a dangling preposition, I had to give up on being the grammar police. It takes much less time to communicate now….but I will try to be careful when I comment on your posts. 🙂

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